Key Target in '03 Class Verbals to ISU

The Iowa State coaching staff has filled a huge void in this season's class by adding a commitment from a Houston (Texas) area defensive end.

Kashmere High School standout Jason Berryman, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound, gives the Cyclones their first verbal from a rush end for the Class of 2003.

"(ISU) Coach (Mike)Nelson was up front with us from the start, in saying Jason was their number one priority," Berryman's father, Jewel, told Cyclone Nation Thursday afternoon. "He wanted him to make a visit earlier, but we had already made commitments and it wasn't feasible until later in the recruiting process. But Iowa State was always on my son's mind anyway."

Once Berryman took his visit during the weekend of Jan. 17, he was sold on ISU being his school of choice. Berryman and his family chose to honor a commitment to take an official visit to Arizona the following weekend, and the schools entertained head coaches from both programs over the past few nights.

"He liked the players that were there and had a very good rapport with just about all of them," Jewel Berryman said. "He felt right at home when we were there and that was a big difference. We enjoyed the staff and people. It was an all-around exceptional visit.

"It impressed him that Coach Nelson recruited him and would actually be his coach at Iowa State. When we were weighing differences between Arizona and Iowa State, we felt that Iowa State's program was further along in the rebuilding process than Arizona. We felt that he would have a better chance of reaching the pinnacle of being a national champion at Iowa State, compared to Arizona."

Berryman had also considered SMU and Kansas as his finalists, and Pittsburgh was also reportedly in the mix.

"I must admit that each and every University we visited with was a top-quality organization," Berryman's father added. "Everything was above board and they treated us very well.

"It was just that SMU was in too small of a conference. Kansas has the same problem that Arizona has, in that their program is a little further down in the rebuilding process. I feel like Jason can have an immediate on the Iowa State program and may be able to push them to the next level. We think Jason can help get them there."

The most likely position Berryman hopes to do that in is rush end, a spot currently held by returning senior starter Tyson Smith. He's very much in the mold of current ISU rush end Smith and could follow a similar path at the Division I level, as Smith started his career as a SAM linebacker before making the move to rush end in his early years.

"I'm real flexible," Jason Berryman told Cyclone Nation in a previous interview. "When the defensive end sees the tape, he wants me at defensive end. When the linebacker coach sees the tape, he wants me at linebacker. Whatever the head coach wants me play, I'll do it. I just love to play football.

"I've watched a couple (Cyclone) games and like the way (Tyson Smith) plays. He's very aggressive and goes after the quarterback every down. He also has to play smart. I really like to rush the quarterback."

Berryman finished with more than 60 tackles and 16 sacks this season for Kashmere, which made the Class 4A state playoffs and finished 8-3 overall.

Although Berryman's future team slumped to a 7-7 mark after opening with six wins in seven games, Jewel Berryman said he is impressed with the ISU program and potential in the next few years.

"I was quite impressed with the season they had last year and with the fact they've beaten the University of Iowa five years in a row and been to three consecutive bowl games," he said. "I'm also looking forward to coming up to see the game on the 18th of October when Iowa State plays the University of Texas."

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